Pirates worked in the wealth accumulation business over many years in different geographic locations; most pirates conducted business at sea. Pirates perfected the art of plundering both covertly and overtly from numerous sources. Pirates often employed direct force-of-arms to obtain items of worth with a realization there was little hope of converting that wealth into real estate or cash. Pirates generally mistrusted anything other than gold, silver, jewels, and good versus junk jewelry.
Mistrusted sources were banks, (I Owe You) certificates including IOU’s from other pirates, stocks, bonds, and fake treasure maps of uncharted islands. Safekeeping of ill-gotten gains was a continual worry for pirates. Captives were at times included as spoils resulting from winning a fight at sea with a commercial vessel. Prisoners joined pirate crews or were exchanged for items of monetary value if they were that fortunate. Generally speaking, pirates were not nice folks. However, some pirates were clever and much can be learned by reading about the exploits of pirates be it fictional or nonfictional.
Some pirates obtained Letters of Marque creating some recognition and protection from a nation at war with another nation. Only pirates that knew their stuff and had good reputations for doing really bad stuff to those attacked were offered these letters. Pirates operating as privateers mostly did more bad stuff to help a particular cause as opposed to a free-for-all attitude toward wealth accumulation from anywhere they could get it. Privateers approached respectability in the eyes of some persons.
Pirates started careers from various levels of the social strata – some started as wealthy young persons from good families that were able to offer promising future opportunities for advancement. Some of these fledging pirates found themselves plunged into depression that was caused by a social disgrace or a romantic relationship gone-wrong. Other reasons for choosing to ply the pirate trade included just plain boredom with the “good life” leading to a fling at attainment of increased attention among one’s peers. The other end of the pirate career pool consisted of poverty ridden persons with little hope of attaining a better life. Involvement in petty crime from an early age often honed fighting skills and a desire to visit far-flung places inhabited by wild party types.
Pirates buried their treasure in chests in far-flung places and at times lost their ill-gotten gains at the bottom of the sea as a result of hostile (to them) sources stemming from losing battles to naval warships including being sunk by less than friendly other pirates. Generally, pirates displayed a lack of respect for lawful authority, projected attitudes of bad behavior including practices of poor hygiene, unkempt appearances while at times engaging in gluttony in total disregard for pursuing healthful eating habits, and they had a disdain for dental hygiene resulting in flashy smiles from multiple gold teeth. And pirates cultivated unbridled attitudes relative to pursuing romantic activities within and outside the institution of marriage. Being a good pirate is a disgrace to the vocation. The best pirates are really bad folks and folks love pirate books jammed-full of fighting and tough decision making under horrible conditions with dire consequences resulting from errors in judgments.
Pirates that survive longer than others are usually very clever in making the most out of really bad situations. Other pirates keep the jailhouses in a state of overcrowding thereby driving budgets into overruns. This situation began years before the Tower of London was ordered to provide rooms for members of royalty. Romance looms large in the domain of pirates, and this emotion has started many a poor, law-abiding, hardworking individual down the road toward ill-gotten gains. Folks love pirate books laced with romance.
So why do folks like to read pirate stories? Research reveals the answer has to do with romance, money, improved living conditions (often temporary in nature depending on the degree of piracy) and in some instances, revenge for some actual or perceived digression from the norms of society. Generally, pirates are not interested in free stuff because free is for everyone and obviously not worth stealing.